Contributors * more photos to appear soon

Contributors * more photos to appear soon
Christy Namee Eriksen, kim thompson, Jon Schill

Friday, September 10, 2010

I Am From

Our Juneau Writers of Color group is gonna meet this weekend so I thought it'd be fun if we all did an assignment, did the classic "I AM FROM" poem (prompt credited to George Ella Lyons, I believe) to share. It was kind of a selfish assignment because really I'm just forcing them to speed date with me for a moment, tell me where they're from, what makes them who they are, at least at this point in their lives. The last time i did an I AM FROM poem it was like my first year of college and where I was from Then is very different than where I'm from Now. It's interesting to think about how where we're from isn't just a cumulative list of experiences, they're weighted so that some stuff seems bigger, feels heavier, takes up more room than other stuff at different points in our lives. Well, here it is, proof I did my homework, current stuff taking up room in my life:


I am from combat shopping day after Thanksgiving, sun still feasting on dawn, my mother coaching us in the parking lot:
Grab whatever looks good, think about it later. Be quick, travel light. Socks are half off.

I am from brown hair, black hair, pepper, pennies, sunrise, strawberry blonde locks,
gossiped and snipped, pieces of other people’s beauty as of yesterday,
their rich wigs, fallen to my mother’s spare change feet, kissing the ground she walks on.
I am from the daughter of daughter of hairdressers,
of gentle hands at your pressure points.

I am from May the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance to you, and give you peace!

and I am from god damn peaceful people,
who choose to say nothing
if they have nothing nice to say,

so I am from begging the LORD to love me anyway.

I am from high school sweethearts married almost 40 years now, whose sole concept of hurting each other’s feelings is not being able to find the other person at Costco.

I am from heroes, who I never saw in their normal clothes until I was grown.
I am from ripping them apart, searching for their capes.

I am from
the single tear a woman lets herself cry only once a year,
rolled along Seoul’s sewer system,
carried by rat to the coast,
shaken off hands wiped clean.
I am from a drop
a ripple
a storm
gaining strength across the ocean,

I am from destruction
from men at their knees
from frantic mothers, their children’s names an endless echo,
and a sore prayer in the throats of presidents,

and I am from not knowing my own strength,
reaching out to touch him and my wave breaking legs,
I crash, just wanting to lap at his ankles.

I am from two hundred thousand sunken ships,
our treasure lost at sea, and like ghosts
we haunt the streets of our homeland,
looking for what’s ours,
I am from passing our hands through solid objects as we name them.
Korean men and women,
maybe our brothers and sisters,
stare straight through our accent,
our american hips,
our histories,
so we can not tel
lif we have really come back
or not.

I am from abandoning myself.
From tucking me
in a basket, floating down a monarch vodka river,
From leaving me
at doorsteps, in backseats, under silk sheets, between body heat.

I am from two driftwood twigs paler than they ever were,
softer than they appear,
broken from a weeping tree somewhere,
and I am from the fifteen year old haphazard love making of their edges as they
rub together like they were meant to be fire,
limbs in a collision rhythm.
See I am not from sparks,
I am from friction, from smoke, from a slow burn that scars you from the inside.

I am from a dream left open and men like happy thieves
I am from a pirate wife’s life, who let him steal from me.
and I am from mutiny,
from a plank made out of fingernails I pulled from our hearts.
And I am from the watch tower on starboard side at sunset,
wide awake, with death grips on a pistol,
on my steel child not to be confused with bullets,
and old poems I quilted into a white flag,
some days we raise it.

I am from the Queen of Spades,
the Ace of Hearts,
the Five of Diamonds.
I am nothing. I am royalty.

Pick me,
put me back,
shuffle me, cut me,
let me be found.
I am magic, I am from tricks.


* in honor of my 6th grade writing teacher and the writing exercises we once did and memories of conversations in the lbc.


sounds like fingers tapping on a castle tin roof


tastes like the end of a duracell battery


smells like green soft grass freshly mown


feels like pin pricks to the skin that do not pierce but spread


looks like thin lines running down a page.


kim thompson friday 10 september 2010 14.09 seoul korea

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

a very belated thursday poem

* so ive not been writing the past weeks but it doesnt mean ive not had words writhing about... this isnt a poem its just a lot of words...

- so im sitting

listening to "this american life" and thinking about "here"

- "here" being - korea.

and im thinking about what it means to be adopted.

and im thinking about all the white foreign faces here and im not sure really how i fit in... how it is that i can feel this sense of indignation at times with the white faces when its the same kinds of faces that back in the states and over in europe i consider to be some of my truest friends and family...

but here... i confess

at times

i just wish


they would all

go home.

and then i get confused cuz i think "kim youre not exactly korean korean and no korean korean will ever see you as fully korean korean and you yourself dont even feel that you are korean korean..."

and then i see white men... white women... chasing after ones who suddenly i consider "MY" people ...

its the sense of superiority.. that gets me

its this attitude that i see in almost every single white n. american i have met here... that somehow where they are from is better than here... and that how they look is more desirable... and that "we" are this experience this delicacy to be had...

and ive heard stories of "them" walking into bars saying

"doesnt it feel good to walk in knowing that you own the place?"

and ive seen and heard for myself

"koreans want us cuz we (white people) are so good in bed"

(and because im not a nice person i cant help but think

"its because back where youre from you cant get laid")

and then i scold myself for not being nice...

and ive seen and heard for myself white people telling us (ibyangs) how we need to feel about being here

and how we have yet to really experience here

and i think "i dont care how long youve lived here... this place this land is more mine than it will ever be yours"

but then im reminded of that invisible manned military line created by "their" governments... and how theyve been taking from here the moment they set foot down on this land

and i scold myself again for not being kinder...

and then i think about the accusations and how ive seen... ibyang men and kyopo men almost desperate for a korean wife... like korea is this new world where they can be the man that they never felt like they were back over there... and i see it with kyopo and ibyang women too... and i wonder how guilty am i of the same?

and yet i know its somehow different

because i know what it is we've lost

and i know who took it...

i see adoption

how it sets everyone off

adoptees cant even get along with each other because of it

i think ive lost friends back home (back home being mpls) because of what i believe...

and i see how torn we are all

ripped not only from our mothers fathers brothers sisters aunts uncles cousins grandmothers grandfathers

but from our land

our country

our identity

our way of seeing in the mirror

and the white faces here

remind me of

how and why this all started

a war

that america encouraged

that gi's fathered

that well meaning white americans and europeans pitied

and i think

"havent you taken enough?"

but then i think of europe

and what i saw in lithuania

and the influence of the west

and how theres a lot of good that has come

but so much bad

i think about ola

and how she told me when the new fountain had been built in her town square

"ahh the west has its influence even in zory now"

and how she told me

"the good is that our education is opening and expanding

the bad is - mcdonalds and fountains and this consumer mentality"

and i think here in korea

who am i to judge a thing?

and i cant judge every white person here

and i even like some of them

but i still wish theyd stop dating my people

but then i go back to

"what exactly do i mean by that? ibyangs or korean koreans? or?"


"since when did i become such an ethnocentric type? its a mentality i always deplored in the states and europe and im sorry england i love you but youre amongst the worst for ethnocentric thinking"

and its too many tangents

and theres no resolution

and everyone just gets offended and says "who are you to say this? shouldnt you be more grateful?"

and then i go back to the word "grateful"

and how white people are always saying this

and adoptees have picked up on it

and we're all just so broken and torn and confused

so i dont know

i really dont know

but im trying

because you see

we have no role models

(sadly) we are called into being the models to role something that we are stumbling about in

... i think back to christys poem

- how she said "what would harry holt do?"

what would he do if he knew that this was how it was going to be?

... i look at the white faces here - and wonder if their ignorance is excuse? if their need to pay off debts is enough? if their living or learning language makes them ok?

but then they go and date us

and ive heard them say with my own ears

"korean women like us cuz they know how good we are in bed"

... ... there is no end to this

there is only this middle

and we are in it

kim thompson tuesday 7 sept 2010 seoul.s.korea